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Friends in the Media PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 28 May 2010 10:37

An editorial in Christianity Today briefly examines the beneficial role the secular media can have in calling the Church to "be more itself."  Looking at some of the negative reactions from some members of the hierarchy to the media's attention to the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis, the editorial posits we shouldn't shoot the messenger, and that over-defensiveness creates an even more antagonistic relationship between mainstream media and the Church.

While sloppy reporting, innuendo and a lack of knowledge of history or the workings of the Church should be pointed out and decried, we can't forget that Jesus himself promised what is hidden will be revealed.  Furthermore, the same media that exposes our sins (to our shame) can also report the good that we do (to the glory of God).  If a reporter is seriously trying to uncover the truth, we should welcome - and aid - that cause, not dismiss it or label the effort as anti-Catholic.  The truth, even if sought by someone who might claim there is no such thing as truth, cannot be anti-Catholic.  Rather, it is "sharper than any two-edged sword," and has the power to separate the reality of who we are from the façade we might try to hide behind.

The editorial rightly points out, "The Boston Globe's 2002 series on sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston is a case par excellence of journalistic integrity in the service of a community. The Pulitzer Prize-winning series is often noted for breaking the dam of global church secrecy and helping the church handle victims and abusers more responsibly. The series led to concrete changes, including a 2004 church-initiated survey of the scope of abuse in the U.S., and tougher measures for handling allegations."

While the ongoing revelations of the sexual predation of children by Catholic clergy is a source of great pain to us all, the Church must welcome them if, like any individual confronted with their sin, we are going to undergo conversion.  The editorial goes on to observe, correctly, I believe, that

God, in his zeal for our refinement, can use journalistic truth-telling—even from those who ask "what is truth?"—to sanctify us. Purification rarely feels good, and some critiques are found to be nothing more than hate-filled attacks. But since "there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Luke 12:2), ministries can face journalistic scrutiny confidently, looking for God's judgment and grace in unlikely sources. As Catholic theologian Edward Oakes said in an April homily, "[I]f the Hebrew prophets could see the hand of God at work in the attacks on ancient Israel from the Assyrian empire, then Catholics [and all Christians] ought to be able to espy the workings of divine providence when the media bring to light crimes that should have been made public from the beginning."


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